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From the Seas to the Skies 

This episode describes the essential evolutionary developments that created the major groups of invertebrates beginning with notochords to fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs and ultimately birds.


David Lee


Episode credited cast:
David Attenborough ... Self - Presenter




This episode describes the essential evolutionary developments that created the major groups of invertebrates beginning with notochords to fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs and ultimately birds.

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A triumphant rise
9 February 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

As said many times, David Attenborough is a national treasure. He may apparently dislike the term, but it is hard to not say that about such a great presenter who has contributed significantly to some of the best documentaries there's ever been. Even lesser work, such as 'The Penguin King', is still more than worthwhile.

It has been said many times by me that Attenborough has done so gems in his long career that picking a favourite is very difficult. Still stand by me. It has also been said by me that it is equally hard to not reiterate what was said in reviews of Attenborough's previous work because consistently they have exactly the same strengths in quality. 'Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates' lives up to its name. My one criticism of 'Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates' is that for my liking there aren't enough episodes, there are only two when it should have been 4-6 with the two episodes covering so much, if longer there would have been more time to go into detail. Otherwise, it represents everything that is so good about Attenborough and his large and consistently good body of work.

'Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates' commences wonderfully with "From the Seas to the Skies". As to be expected, "From the Seas to the Skies" looks beautiful. It is beautifully filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate way and there is nothing static about it at all. The editing is smooth and succinct and the wide range of habitats make for some truly eye catching scenery that are just as big in character as the animals/subjects and Attenborough himself. The music is fitting and memorable.

The animals/subjects, here consisting of dinosaurs, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, are also wide in variety. Not only do they look great their personalities, whether prey or predator, are big. One learns a lot about them and cares about them in the same way they would for a human character in a film (more so than most actually). This may sound like hyperbole, but it really came across that way to me.

Using the likes of diagrams and fossils to back up what is said, what the viewer is told is constantly fascinating, nothing is trivialised and nothing patronises. There are some complex themes explored and to full potential. Found myself learning a lot and found that even familiar knowledge was expanded upon. Format-wise, the variety in habitats and animals is so diverse that repetition never kicks in. Like Attenborough's best work, it is easy to connect emotionally with "From the Seas to the Skies" and it is hard not to be captivated by the fun, tension and pathos.

Attenborough is a huge part of the appeal, of course, and his contribution helps significantly. He is very candid, clearly knowing his stuff and knowing what to say and how to say it. He delivers it with his usual richness, soft-spoken enthusiasm and sincerity, never talking down to the viewer and keeping them riveted and wanting to know more.

Overall, wonderful start to a triumphant if too short series. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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20 September 2013 (UK) See more »

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